Weather defines much of our cruising. When it’s windy, we’re reluctant to venture through the “gates” that divide cruising areas. The direction and strength of winds impacts where we anchor and how much scope we use. For sailors, winds can make the difference between a slog under power and a thrilling sleigh ride.

Thankfully, weather forecasts have gotten better in recent years. And now, a new piece of software from fellow cruiser (and programmer) Bill Ray promises to make interpreting forecast data easier than ever. Welcome to Salish Sea Wx.

Salish Sea Wx

Salish Sea Wx runs well on a variety of platforms, including iPhone, seen above.

Salish Sea Wx is a web-based, multi platform weather tool geared specifically towards cruisers in the Northwest. We’ve used the application on iPhones, iPads, and computers, and it works well on each platform. Salish Sea Wx covers the waterways from Olympia, WA through Nanaimo, B.C., utilizing high-resolution computer models from the University of Washington.

The beauty of Salish Sea Wx is its presentation of data. Upon logging in to the website, users are presented with four primary options: Discussion, Pacific, Lines, and Grids.

Discussion provides a written explanation of the forecast. Uncertainties are highlighted. The “big picture” is discussed in paragraph form.

The Pacific button brings up weatherfax forecast maps for the Pacific Ocean. These images illustrate the locations and predicted direction of high and low pressure systems. This is useful for developing a “big picture” understanding of how the weather will change in coming days.

Salish Sea Wx

Weatherfax forecast maps are easily viewable in Salish Sea Wx.

Lines show predicted surface winds for the next several days. They also include buoy and land based weather stations, making it easy to check how the forecast winds compare with observed winds. The graphical presentation in the lines section is particularly useful when planning when to travel between destinations.

Salish Sea Wx

The Lines view illustrates surface wind predictions.

Grids utilize a basic map with wind barbs overlaid on top, indicating the direction and strength of predicted winds. These are perfect for selecting the calmest route between destinations.

Salish Sea Wx

The Grids view shows where wind is likely to blow.

Salish Sea Wx is available for $29.50 per year at www.wxjunkie.com. After using it, we recommend this service for cruisers who spend a substantial amount of time in the covered area.

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